Thousands owed £340m in underpaid benefits after ‘major’ DWP error


MPs have criticised a “culture of indifference” at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), after a “major” error resulted in thousands of people being underpaid in benefits for several years.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) estimates that 70,000 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants have been underpaid a shocking £340 million in ESA, with those affected owed an average £5,000 each and some owed as much as £20,000.

However, some people look set to miss out entirely, because the DWP has only agreed to backdate payments to 2014, even though the errors in payments go back much further.

In a damning report published today, the PAC blast the Department for taking longer than 6 years to rectify the problems that were causing the underpayments, “even when it was painfully obvious that it was underpaying a significant number of people”.

“It failed to design a process that reflected its own legislation”, the PAC said. “It failed to subject that process to proper scrutiny. It failed to listen to its own staff, claimants, or external stakeholders and experts who told it things were going wrong and that it needed to slow down.”

The DWP are now finally beginning to repay the arrears, but there is no plan to compensate sick and disabled ESA claimants who have missed out on passported benefits like free prescriptions and free school meals.

 

Source: Thousands owed £340m in underpaid benefits after ‘major’ DWP error